Twenty isn’t so carefree for everyone.
“You no pay me!” our landlord Eduardo flung the eviction notice to the ground, scrunched his ancient face up in disgust and shook his head, “Third time this year you late? You no savvy ‘pay me?’ I throw you out! You and mami!”
Third time is a charm right?
I leaned against the door, my weight sagged to the ground, my breath ragged on and behind me on the couch my ‘mami’ laid with her emaciated legs propped up on the arm of the couch, “Sammie? Who’s that baby?”
Eduardo peered into our tiny one bedroom apartment, and I stepped in front of him. Last time he’d come, he’d thought talking to her might speed along the money issue, but it’d only made her sicker,” Nobody mama, go back to sleep.”
I slid between the open space between the door and its frame, closed it gently behind me. The door, a grotesque assortment of rotting wood, forest green rubber pant and rusty brass made a creaking sound. Eduardo stood in a background of antique winding staircases (a feat for such an old building), brown, grime washed walls, swinging naked light bulbs and a chorus of voices from the neighbors on all sides.
“Mr. E,” I took a deep breath, “Give me a week ok? Things got a little tight. My hours were cut last week and you know I’m good for it Mr. E….you know I am?”
Being the sole provider for me and mama had proven to be the greatest struggle I’d ever went through. With her bad kidneys and Sclerosis of the liver and lack of decent health insurance things had been hard. We had government assistance yeah, but the days I had to take off to take her to the hospital for treatment had slowly but surely pissed my boss off. He didn’t care that I had a dying mother. He saw me as another worker on his assembly line of hell and if I wasn’t there, then I wasn’t making him money and if I wasn’t making him money then I was pissing him off.
And school God. I hadn’t been to class in a week, “Always e’scuses with you people. You no pay me you leave! I want my dinero,” he rubbed his chubby thumb against his fingers in a circular motion, “my money. I want it tomorrow or you out!”
My heart clenched, “Mr. E I swear to God I can’t,” I felt the tears building up as his figure turned, “Mr. E please give me some more time!”
He walked, his old shirt reminiscent of a retirement home in Boca stretched against his girth as he stomped down the winding staircase, “You pay me!” He called out again.
A dam broke. I sank to my knees against the door, my palms scraped against the rough granite of the ground and the scent of death wavered in the air. For a year I hadn’t cried. But I cried then.
What was I going to do?